SENIOR PICTURES IDEAS
Senior Picture shoots are one of the most important things to do before leaving high school. These memories will prove to be priceless for years to come! Quality Senior Photos don’t always have to be done by a professional. Learn how to quickly do them yourself without the hassle of a DSLR camera. These senior pictures ideas on how to choose outfits, poses, lighting and more will help you set up a successful photo shoot, and end up with fabulous Senior Photos!
2020 is a bummer year for high school seniors all around the world. With the remainder of the the school year canceled or at least temporarily postponed, they are watching all the events they looked forward to for years, just slip through their hands.
This is the year we were looking forward to the most. My stepson is in 12th grade, and my younger son is in 6th, last year of elementary school. The latter part of the year is when all the fun stuff happens. I’ve mourned with my boys and keep telling them what I am trying to convince myself of, that good things will come out of this. We must believe.
As a sports family, one way I wanted to commemorate my son’s last year of high school was with his senior pictures. Thankfully the school had taken professional team pictures before this whole thing happened, but I wanted more creative pictures of just my senior. He lives for baseball so having professional pictures taken of just him in his varsity uniform was going to be a highlight for all of us. We had been in talks with a photographer for a few weeks, trying to nail down a date when this quarantine started. She ended up canceling on us, which we completely understood. I will admit that while I didn’t blame her one bit, I was devastated. It was the first time I really felt defeated by this whole thing. I guess it was the first tangible sign that his senior year really is ruined. I cried.
DIY SENIOR PICTURES
Trying to encourage myself to stay strong, I knew the only way I could do that is to just let myself just be sad for a few days, then shake it off. I did just that, and then started brainstorming. I suppose I could’ve just waited until later in the summer to get the photos taken, but my in my heart I felt that having them now would help me heal a little faster. If only I could get a photographer to book a shoot.
My husband kept telling me that I don’t need a photographer, I can just take my own pictures. HA! I am not a photographer. Posting pretty pictures of cookies and crafts for this blog does not make me a good people picture taker.
DSLR vs. iPhone
At this point it was that or nothing. Truthfully, the thought of using my DSLR camera to take pictures of people scared me. I bought it for blog images years ago, but have never been able to master that thing. I have always felt that it took much longer to set up the right shot, choose the correct angles, and edit. I was worried about not being able to get good shots, and then having to move to other locations, and set up again, as I lost daylight and my model becoming frustrated. I was definitely overthinking it all.
Again my husband (in his perpetual practical sense) made the obvious suggestion– why not just use my iphone?
I gasped because–who does that? Who uses their iphone to take photos and expect them to look like a DSLR caliber shot? After doing some research it turns out, A LOT of people do.
This article makes a great comparison of the two devices. The writer believes the quality of the iphone 11 is very close to a DSLR camera. In fact that seems to be the general consensus across the web. Considering the portability and ease of use with the iphone, I decided to go ahead and give it a go.
HOW I SET UP MY IPHONE PHOTO SHOOT
I will be the very first to admit, that I am not a great photographer. Even as a blogger for the last eight years where images are pretty much everything, I have never been able to compete with so many beautiful images I see across Pinterest. Now, that is not to say that I haven’t learned a ton over the years, and that my photos haven’t improved. They sure have and I am now much more confident in the pictures I post to this blog, on Pinterest, and at the Modern Sports Mom Instagram.
However, taking pictures of inanimate objects and taking them of real live people is a completely different practice! While I am still working on learning techniques to do this better, I think I did a good job!
DIY PHOTOS STEP BY STEP
The first step to taking professional looking pictures is think of the process as such. Plan well. Set up the day and start time several days ahead. Make sure there is plenty of time to prep, and that there won’t be any avoidable interruptions.
SELECT THE LOCATION
As I mentioned before, our son’s entire life revolves around the sport of baseball and so it’s fitting that his senior pictures reflect that. We chose a local little league field, since his school is closed for quarantine. Once we determined the location, I started to plan the shots. I happen to run on the track by the fields a few times a week, so while I was there one afternoon I took some random pictures of the area. This let me imagine what my son would look like in certain locations, against walls, and fences, and what shades and colors stood out most.
OUTFITS FOR SENIOR PICTURES
I chose to use both of the uniforms issued by the school for the season. One is mostly white, the other navy blue. For my son’s solo pictures we went with the white uniform. For the photos with his little brother, I had my senior wear navy blue, while my little guy wore white to contrast. Some may want to change into different outfits mid shoot. As long as that can be done quickly so as to not lose light (see below), then that is perfectly fine!
My suggestion is that patterns are good, but aim for no writing on clothing (except if it’s a uniform). Nothing too busy that can draw attention away from the subject’s face. Try to choose a color scheme that works well with the background, whether it be nature or indoors. Simple is usually better!
TIMING (& LIGHTING) IS EVERYTHING
One of the most important things I’ve learned as a blogger is that the time of day is the single most important thing to consider when taking pictures. Even for an indoor shoot, natural light is usually best.
The “golden hour” or “magical hour” as it’s called by some filmmakers, is when the sun is close to setting on a sunny day, and the light appears warmer, and softer.
When the sun is shining bright, it’s important to look for shade. You want soft, even light in an area with plenty of shade. Under a tree, or indoors near a window, otherwise you’ll end up with squinting eyes, scrunched up noses, and harsh shadows on their faces.
If waiting until later in the day is inconvenient, then a cloudy or overcast day is perfect. Nothing ruins a picture more than improper lighting.
Arrive at your location 15 minutes before this time, and plan to take most of your photos during that 30 minute period where the light from the sun is the prettiest.
POSES & SMILES FOR SENIOR PICTURES
Needless to say, but important to mention in this context, a natural smile is so much better than a forced smile. During this experience I learned that teens and tweens don’t smile naturally on command. I don’t know why I needed to go through this to figure that out!
I asked him to smile and he did. He did a lovely job of showing off his sweet grin. Still, I knew that he could do better. I have seen his genuine, sincere smile and it’s amazing. That is not what I was getting here!
SMILE ON COMMAND
My husband who had officially been playing the role of my assistant for the day, noticed too. He decided to crack one of his funny dad jokes, and it worked like a charm.
An authentic smile is always best!
The same principal applies when it comes to poses. For older kids I prefer a candid picture that seems to be catching them in the act of something great. Or maybe like they were already in a certain position, and they just happened to glance over at the precise moment.
Look around the internet to find poses you might like. You may find a few to try to emulate, and make your own.
NOT JUST ANY SMARTPHONE WILL DO
I used my DSLR camera for everything before I upgraded to the iPhone 11. I don’t have a “Pro” because I didn’t feel the need for the additional lens at the time. I started to use it for my Instagram pictures, which turned into one or two here and there for the blog, when I was in a hurry. The clarity and quality of the images was amazing. Eventually I started to use my smartphone to take all of my blog pictures.
The iPhone 11 is fantastic! Over the years I have never noticed much of a difference in photo quality from one version of the iPhone to another, until this one. Apple did an amazing job of improving this highly used feature with this version. Nonetheless, if you have a an iPhone 8 or beyond, you should still be able to take some great shots.
USE A TRIPOD
I have used a tripod for my regular blog images for a while now. It’s very helpful to keep the phone steady while taking a picture. My hand tends to shake slightly when I am about to press the shutter release button, and sometimes that can cause some blur.
This tripod is specifically made to hold phones and can adjust to any size. It’s inexpensive, and easy to use. Utilizing a tripod leaves my hands free to be able to direct or move my subject.
Without having to hold the phone, I can set up the perfect ‘scene’ for the picture and frame the picture correctly It’s also great for selfies, or group shots!
USE THE PORTRAIT MODE FOR AMAZING PHOTOS
Portrait mode on the iPhone has made ALL the difference in my pictures. It is a fabulous tool for creating beautiful images! This feature adds a blur to the background, for a professional look while keeping the subject looking crisp and sharp.
It’s very simple to use. Simply open the camera app, then swipe across the shooting modes at the bottom of the screen and select ‘portrait’. There are a few guidelines to use the portrait mode properly.
USE A GOOD FILTER APP
Even in perfect light, adding a filter to images is a must. Today’s pictures are more dramatic than in years’ past, and having the right filter can add an effect to the final shot quickly and easily. Whether you want a darker look, or you want your photos to have a lighter and cleaner appearance, a filter is imperative. Filters usually hide slight imperfections, which many of us can appreciate.
There are so many photo filter apps out there, choosing the right one can be tricky. I have used 3 in the past that I like:
- Color Story
- Light Room
All of these are free mobile downloads from the iTunes app store, and also available on Android.
The app I use the most as of late is Light Room by Photoshop. This mobile app comes with some of its own presets. A preset is a group of filter settings that have already been set for you, and given a name. I purchased additional presets from Light and Airy, which I use for most of my images.
There are literally hundreds of companies out there selling mobile presets (typically not expensive), so feel free to run a quick search and find one you like and that fits your budget. Most come with easy tutorials on how to download them to the Light Room app. This process makes adding a fun and trendy look to your images as easy as one click!
AFTER FILTER & CROPPING
This is the easiest way for me, an amateur photographer, to easily and almost instantly give my images a more modern and trendy look.
To add a little more drama to your images, consider a black and white filter. Black and white photography is always a classic and polished option.
EXPERIMENT WITH ONLINE GRAPHIC DESIGN SOFTWARE
For general editing, cropping, and to add writing to an image, such as the “2020” I added below, use free software like Canva or Pic Monkey (or several others).
This photo shoot added a silver lining to an otherwise gloomy final year of high school for my senior. I am so glad my husband nudged me into taking my own senior baseball pictures! These memories will prove to be priceless for years to come!
I still have a lot to learn when it comes to photography, but I’m eager to study the craft a little more and improve.
If you are unable or don’t want to hire a professional photographer, you can still have great shots of your senior. For those that are comfortable using a DSLR camera then by all means go for it!
My advice to the rest of us is don’t bother with a complicated DSLR. Grab your smartphone using the strategies outlined here for fantastic images of your upcoming grad!
Congratulations to all the graduates out there!
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Barbara is the mom behind the blog. She began writing in 2012 as the creator of Hello Life, a craft & lifestyle blog. As life evolved, and her kids became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. Like many of today’s mamas, she loves being creative, cooking, and fashion, and when there are a few minutes to spare, a good book. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.